Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Angels 4, Indians 3 (12): Three Up, Three Down
By Mark Saxon
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Jeff Mathis, who had entered the game an inning earlier, drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly to drive in Vernon Wells on Wednesday as the Angels won their second extra-inning game on this homestand, 4-3, over the Cleveland Indians.
Less than two weeks into the season, the Angels already have played 12 extra innings.
Third wheel. It’s hard for Ervin Santana to look good these days, because Jered Weaver and Dan Haren have been engaged in their early Cy Young duel at the front of the rotation. Santana has pitched perfectly well, with three nearly identical starts. He has pitched at least into the seventh inning and given up either six or seven hits and exactly three runs in all three starts.
Torii’s timing.Torii Hunter got a hanging breaking ball and hit it for a two-run home run in the fourth inning. The surprising thing about the home run was that it was only the second this season with a man on base. The Angels have hit 15 home runs, 13 of them solo shots. Those were Hunter’s ninth RBIs. Nobody else on the team has more than five.
Hank’s arm. The Indians stole a couple of bases in the middle innings, but they weren’t stealing off rookie catcher Hank Conger, whose throwing has dramatically improved. They were stealing off Santana, who was on the mound for 36 stolen bases last year, second-worst in the AL to New York’s A.J. Burnett. Conger might have saved a run when he picked off Shin-Soo Choo from third base in the sixth in a strikeout-throw-out double play.
Young Peter. Consistency can be the hardest part of the game for young players. Peter Bourjos was the offensive star Tuesday night, slamming a home run and a double, but he couldn’t have looked any worse Wednesday. Bourjos struck out in his first four at-bats, then decided to stop swinging and laid down a bunt. That didn't work either, as pitcher Chris Perez threw him out.
Guess who? For a guy with nearly 10 years in the major leagues, you would think Vernon Wells would be more adept at adjusting. Pitchers keep pitching him away and he keeps trying to pull the ball. Wells did snap a 1-for-30 freefall by pulling a single off the shortstop's glove leading off the 12th inning. That raised his average from .083 to .102.
Glove placement. Reliever Scott Downs was on the verge of getting out of the eighth inning with no damage when he picked a bad time to throw one in the dirt. His wild pitch allowed runners to advance, which led to an Indians run after Choo's hard chopper ricocheted off Downs' glove to Howie Kendrick for an RBI groundout.